Swedish innovation towards greener flights makes further strides with carbon reduction gains from VINGA
Novair Airbus A321 landing on a VINGA validation flight (Photo Sören Andersson www.2see.se)
Wed 15 June 2011 – A Swedish project to reduce aircraft fuel, emissions and noise on a gate-to-gate basis has made a significant advance in which satellite-based navigation continuous descent approaches can be combined with instrument landing systems (ILS) for safe landings in poor visibility. The one-year VINGA project (Validation and Improvement of Next Generation Airspace) is aiming to reduce emissions and the environmental impact around airports. It is a collaboration involving Gothenburg Landvetter Airport, Swedish air navigation services provider LFV, charter carrier Novair and Quovadis, the Performance Based Navigation consulting subsidiary of Airbus. The project is backed by the Single European Sky research programme SESAR. Around 100 validation flights are due to take place until September.
VINGA follows on from another recent Swedish project called MINT (Minimum CO2 In Terminal Manoeuvring Area) but goes a stage further and covers all phases of flight. Examples include optimised taxiing to the runway (in shorter time and with only one engine running), quicker climb to cruise altitude, approaches and landings by means of gliding with a minimum of thrust via special curved trajectories that shorten the approach, and avoidance of noise-sensitive areas near the airport.
Taking all phases into account, preliminary findings show that it is possible to reduce fuel consumption by almost 300kg and carbon emissions nearing one tonne per flight.
The project’s partners say VINGA is the first in the industry to demonstrate there is no technical problem in combining different navigation systems and perform green landings independent of weather conditions. The breakthrough was achieved in April when a Novair Airbus A321 approached Landvetter via a completely new satellite-based high-precision Required Navigation Procedure (RNP-AR) trajectory and was then guided to the actual landing by the ground-based ILS navigation system during the latter part of the approach.
According to Swedish airports operator Swedavia, another VINGA participant, satellite-based navigation approaches provide environmental benefits but lack the accuracy necessary to land in, say, thick fog.
“Technically, we have proven that it is possible to combine these two systems,” says VINGA Project Manager Niclas Wiklander from LFV. “So far, VINGA has matched our expectations. Since we are part of SESAR, we can widely distribute the knowledge we have obtained. Of course, we hope the regulations that govern air navigation can be adjusted to these findings so aviation can regularly utilise this environmentally advantageous technology – in emissions as well as noise.”
The MINT project concluded in November 2009 after a series of 10 Novair demonstration flights showed an average reduction of 518kg of CO2 per landing into Stockholm-Arlanda Airport. LFV is now working on a RNP-AR route for Stockholm Arlanda’s second runway.
“Sweden has been a leader in terms of environmental initiatives and the MINT and VINGA projects are very important to prove that RNP-AR is an excellent solution to reduce fuel burn and noise,” said Sébastien Borel, Head of Sales and Marketing at Quovadis.